My Dad

 

My Dad. He’s definitely one of a kind. I remember being at least 6 years old going to the store for him with him waiting in the truck outside. “Get me a six pack and a pack of Pall Malls”  I remember the counter being taller than me and sliding the 5 dollar bill across saying “this is for Walter”. Nobody would bat an eye in those days. Unlike today…

Growing up with my Dad wasn’t always easy he ended up with cirrhosis of the liver and that put an end to his Schaeffer drinking days. It also changed his disposition and attitude. My Dad became a lot more fun to be around. All my guy friends liked him and when we were teenagers my friends and my Dad would joke about eating all the “good cookies” from his private stash.

My Dad was a truck mechanic and by the time we (my brother, sister and I ) started driving there was no shortage of various cars my father would pick up from a friend here and there. My first car was a 1976 Buick LeSabre. A tank!  I loved that car, loved it! But the engine blew and well, bye Buick. There wasn’t a shortage of cars we were instructed to “drive the cars to the ground.” You know the saying the shoemakers kids go barefoot. Well the mechanic’s kids drove not so great cars. I’m aware of the irony here. But we lived and had many memorable car experiences to say the least.

My Dad always was and is quick with a joke and a smile. He never fails to find the humor in any situation and as a result people like to joke around with him. My husband and I are still close with a few of the guys from high school and they still joke around with my Dad. They’ll also have more “adult” conversations and that’s nice too. I find myself in that same balance with my Dad between joking and seriousness. He likes to tell each of the three of us “Well you’re my favorite” when another isn’t around. We all laugh and nod…uh huh.

It seeems the older I get the more I appreciate my parents and the more I see them in me.

 

 

 

She’s an Adult.

I’m so proud of my daughter Alyssa. She started college today. Her first day. Tommy drove her in to Manhattan with him this morning. She said it went really well except for being unable to find her first class and arriving there late. She even made a friend. Everything you want for your child. I’m proud of her for going to college by herself in Manhattan. She’s very familiar with the city having gone many times with friends either shopping or going out to eat. But this is different, even though she’s still living at home she’s grown wings and is flying solo. She’s an adult.

Alyssa even went on an interview today to pass out a magazine during the upcoming fashion week. It’s a paid position and she has the opportunity to meet many different people including celebrities. I’m excited for her.

My heart swells for her. I love all my girls but Alyssa is my first girl. My first child after Thomas who was able to show me what a typical kid could do. And do it fabulously. I think of the days we lived in Jersey. Thomas would be going off on a tantrum and put in his room to calm down. I used to sit with Alyssa in front of Thomas’ door (guarding the door until he calmed down). Alyssa and I would sing the alphabet or her favorite Sesame Street song. She was 2 and fabulous even then.

I can’t wait to see what this semester brings for my YaYa. My girl. To watch her grow and blossom even more as an adult. I’m so proud of her.

College Orientation

Here we are on the ferry going towards Manhattan. Destination: The Beacon Theater for Alyssa’s college orientation. It totally seems like yesterday that this stubborn, adorable 4 year old was crying for me to not leave her at pre k. She’s just as stubborn today complaining that she didn’t want to go to this orientation. I just listen there’s nothing I can say. She’s so beautiful, my daughter. And her future is so bright. Today’s orientation is just the beginning of an awesome, adventurous college education. She’s commuting from home this semester with plans to transfer to a different fashion college after this first semester. Alyssa has plans to dorm at the next college. I hope she does get to dorm. I don’t want her to leave home but I do want what she wants to make her happy.

So we begin another journey together but I’m not dropping her off I get to walk along side her for a day. And Alyssa lets me visit the world of a typical family seeing their child off to college.

She’s 18

My Alyssa, my YaYa (nickname courtesy of Daniella), our Deedle (nickname courtesy of Thomas). Whatever we call her we’re so proud of her. She made it through high school while enrolled in a very difficult honor’s program, the International Baccalaureate Program or simply “IB”. I hardly heard her complain about the work, she is one my children that never made it our business that she had a project or paper due, she just did her work and I see Daniella following in her footsteps.

So Alyssa is legally an adult, legal to get any piercing, tattoo or other body adornment. I won’t stop her if she does decide to do any of the above, I will however give my opinion and any pearls of wisdom from first hand experience, asked for or not. I’m optimistic she will make “good” choices.

I can remember the day she was born like it was yesterday the way we all can reminisce about that day for any of our children. I chose to not have the epidural and looking back I know I didn’t need it. My labor was pretty short and the delivery was very quick. When the midwife announced “It’s a girl!” I was in shock of disbelief. My husband is one of 3 boys so I figured I’d never have a girl.  Alyssa was so pink! And everyone who stopped by to see me exclaimed that she was so pretty. (I used to work at the hospital I gave birth in, I had many visitors of former co-workers). I thought everyone was just being “nice” but when I looked back at photos I knew they were telling the truth.She really was a pretty baby.

So now she’s 18 years old. She’s still has a pink complexion and she’s still pretty. Stunning if you ask me but I’m prejudiced. I see some of my husband in her face and she certainly did not inherit her long, ridiculously thick hair from me. She carries herself with grace and is one to dress pretty modestly. I can’t think of one instance where I made her change her clothes before going out or going to school. Adolescence/tween years were not fun; in fact I even called my mother to apologize for my own behavior at that age. Thankfully that time was short lived and by age 14 or so she was back to being our Yaya. Alyssa loves the Lord and isn’t afraid to openly worship Him. I love when she picks me up from work and she’s listening to Christian music, it makes my heart happy.

I wish for the world to be kind to this new adult, this young woman of mine; well mine for now.

Graduation Today!

My Alyssa is graduating high school today. Today. She’s thisclose to turning 18 years old. I don’t wonder where the time went I was there I know how fast it all flew by. It wasn’t always flying by so fast there were days of excruciating slowness but I don’t remember them in detail so much. Much like labor pains those memories fade.

Alyssa is much like an oldest child rather than 2nd born. She was our first girl and our first typical child. I remember her as an infant (such a pretty baby even as a newborn), then toddler. In Pre-K she was the pretty little girl with long curls who clung to her mother’s leg and cried and cried. Grammar school graduation was sweet, Junior high grad was even sweeter. High school years that went so fast I stand in amazement at the woman she’s become in the past 4 years.

I feel incredibly blessed this morning. Blessed that my God has given me the privilege to raise this baby He gifted me with. I sit here holding back proud tears and remember all the times she’s made me proud, all the times she gave me the honor of being her mother. Even the times she made me want to rip my hair out.  In gifting her to me, God gave me the opportunity to parent a very typical, very beautiful, very unique child.

While raising Thomas I often referred to the poem “Welcome to Holland” by Emily Pearl Kingsly:  (http://www.our-kids.org/archives/Holland.html). There were too many times to mention that I mourned the fact that I didn’t sign up to be a special needs mom. That no, I did NOT want to be in Holland. Alyssa gave me the opportunity to visit “Italy”; the typical world, the world I thought I signed up for when I first became a mother. And for that I can never thank her enough. I don’t even know if she’d understand why I would be thanking her.

So I wish my girl all the best this world has to offer. She loves God and she loves me. What more could I ask for?

Birthdays and Being an Adult.

I have a birthday quickly approaching in a little over 2 weeks. It’s not a momentous or milestone birthday, I’ll be 46. And for the record I’m okay with that. I say that now. I don’t know how I’ll feel staring at the big 5-0. I don’t feel 46 years old, although I’m not sure what 46 years old is supposed to feel like. I don’t know what any age is supposed to feel like I can only reflect on what I felt like at certain ages through the years.

Sometimes I’m amused when I’m making dinner thinking of how “adult” I am. Like here I am married, raising kids, running a household; how adult it all is. And when did that happen? Being an “adult”. Legally I know when I turned 18 I was an adult. The only thing I really remember being at 18 is feeling free. I was about to graduate high school, had a great boyfriend, a part time job and I was driving and had my own car. Life was sweet. No “adult” responsibilities in sight. So I can hardly say I personally was an adult at age 18. Nor did I act very adult, IMO anyway.

I think the defining moment in my life was when I was 24. I graduated college as a nurse and finally for the first time had a “real” job, making real money. However I was still living at home. When I did move out I remember feeling so grown up and responsible. Paying for our own wedding and getting married was another grown up step then quickly becoming parents to Thomas with all his issues was a great kick in the old adult pants.

So I guess for me being an adult was a process of steps, I was fortunate that I didn’t have adulthood thrust upon me at an early age. When I look back it was God’s plan for me to take all those steps to finally get to the point where I was prepared to be Thomas’ mother. I was never known to keep my opinion to myself, but advocating for my baby and being bold to respected medical professionals wasn’t something I was well versed in but I had to learn quick and I did.

I look at my oldest daughter about to legally become an adult this summer. Her 18th birthday is shortly after she graduates high school. I know I won’t see her as an adult even though she’s very responsible and like me at that age she is driving her own car, has a great boyfriend and a part time job. I’ll ask her if she feels like an adult. I look forward to her answer.

A new living room

We recently purchased new living room furniture. It marks a milestone for us, meaning Tommy and me. We’re taking back our house. No longer are we tripping over toys or watching the same children’s television programs over and over and over. The living room is ours again and it feels good.

Before the new furniture we had a sectional couch which was great it was big and comfy. We bought that shortly after Samantha was born so around 8 years ago-ish. Between Samantha growing up on that couch literally and the 3 cats and 2 dogs, well it had seen better days. So in between talking about renovating this house to an open concept lay out and moving the sectional around along with re positioning the television we discussed “looking” at new furniture. Ha! So much for looking. We were hooked pretty much a half hour into “looking”. The salesman was awesome and recommended we return to buy in a few days to take advantage of a new sale that was to be going on.

We did return and looked around some more. It’s funny because I find that my husband and I have similar taste. It wasn’t always like this. I used to adore a shabby chic, antique-y style. Tommy was more modern/classic. I guess I’ve changed because Tommy still likes the classic/modern style and I do too, but more classic/traditional. I don’t think I’ll ever prefer a modern style. Besides this house was built in 1935, I don’t think it can handle “modern” without looking out of place.

So anyway the new sofa, love seat, coffee table, end tables, lamps and entertainment center/electric fireplace arrived this past Wednesday. I can’t get over it. It’s been forever that we’ve had a coffee table as odd as that sounds. With the sectional sofa we had a chaise lounge so there really wasn’t any room for a table. We’re almost giddy with the normalcy of having living room tables again. I’ve promptly bought candles to place on the coffee table. It’s been forever it seems since I’ve been able to have things on a coffee table without worrying about something being broken or unsafe.

We’re enjoying our re-claimed space. I dream of reclaiming my bathroom someday.

Signing papers

I received a packet of papers from Thomas’ school via the US mail today. There were various consents forms I have to sign every year giving my permission for Thomas to receive various medications and treatments as needed. It struck me today that I’ll always have to sign for him. Tommy and I are his official legal guardians. (Side note: no one bat an eye when we took that baby home from the hospital without any sort of training or guidebook, but good gravy we were finger printed and background checked to be his guardians after the age of 18…) Tommy or I will always have to give consent for Thomas for one thing or another, or…will have to advocate against a situation or two hopefully not in the near future.

Alyssa is looking at colleges. She’s 17 years old and by the time she goes away to the college of her choice she’ll be a legal adult. The cord will be cut and it will be final. I’ll have no legal leg to stand on if I disagree with her decisions. It’s such an odd comparison between Thomas and Alyssa. When they were small the chasm between them was not that wide. I mean we knew Thomas had issues and that there was something wrong with him we just didn’t know what and had little to no help in finding out what that was at that time in our life.  To go from remembering them both as young preschooler and toddler to now acknowledging the adulthood of both of them. One on one end of adulthood and the other on another end of adulthood is a little hard to digest some days.

It started this afternoon when the mail arrived and I realized what Thomas’ school had sent me. I filled out the blanks and signed where I was supposed to sign. I called the nurses to question a medication change but all in all it was pretty uneventful except for the tug on my emotions that this is something Tommy or I will always have to do. Approve or disapprove decisions for Thomas.

Not soon after dinner Alyssa was talking to me about colleges and dorming (she is determined to dorm and that’s ok). I enjoyed our conversation. She’s worried about the financial aspects of certain colleges and we discussed that and other fears she has surrounding getting accepted to certain schools. I wanted to tell her to keep praying on it but I was interrupted by Samantha.  I will tell her tonight to keep praying to God about the colleges. To give it to Him. He will make a way when there is no other.

I have an interesting spectrum and definitions of adulthood here in my little family.